Swann sets out waiting list task

Date published: 20 February 2024

Health Minister Robin Swann has emphasised that hospital waiting lists cannot be tackled in isolation from other fundamental issues facing health and social care.

Responding to an Assembly debate, the Minister warned that “piecemeal interventions” alone will not be sufficient.

He stated: “Tackling our lengthy waiting times is undoubtedly a long-term issue that requires sustainable and recurrent funding, workforce development and system wide transformation.  The health and social care system is complex, and waiting lists are just one component.  As such, they cannot be addressed in isolation.

“Other fundamentals of the system must be considered and addressed simultaneously, including issues such as workforce pay, pressures and capacity in secondary, primary and community care, and ensuring we maximise the capacity we have within the system. 

“I know that when we see these shocking figures and appalling waiting lists, there is an understandable desire to see them reduced immediately.

“That will require a whole system approach, and not piecemeal interventions that can only deliver small improvements in the short term, and in isolated areas.  That does not mean that there are not short-term measures which can be effective, but the key is to achieve the appropriate balance between short term effective measures and longer term sustainable developments for optimum effect.”

Minister Swann’s full speech for the Assembly debate – which had to be reduced due to time constraints – is available online

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